Cynthia L. Eppley, MA
What—in the world—is happening? These are troubled times. We are dealing with it in different ways. As I talk with people, I find a variety of reactions. These are but a few:
What am I supposed to do? Group 1: Many health care professionals go to work. We pray for their continued health. Those who do work face the concern of exposure to the virus personally. They come home and often strip down to nothing in their garage, including their shoes, so that they do not contaminate their loved ones. But there are also other staff at work: Housekeeping, Garbage disposal, EMT, Police, Septa, Grocery employees, Supply trucks. We see that this is just at the tip of the iceberg.
And we are interconnected in so many ways.
This is exhausting on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
Group 2: Some are able to work from home, or at least cobble together some sort of work. This is not the same dynamic. Consider that day care is closed. Our son and his wife are in this group.She is a health professional, so she is gone at least 6 hrs/day. He stays at home with the baby, trying to work around naptime, diaper changes, and saving Lila from danger as she explores the home. They tag team responsibilities and work, but this makes for 16 hr days. They are exhausted.
Group 3: Those who are not able to work from home? This is a mixed group. It includes those who have lost jobs, been furloughed, retirees, residents in longterm health care and innumerable more categories. My husband and I are in the retired group. We are used to a certain routine, and rhythm of life. This has all changed. For those who worked, there is a “new normal.” But for how long?
Will there be a “normal” again? When will I go back to work? How will I pay my bills? How will I pay my rent? I can’t go to Starbucks for coffee and hang out with my cronies. I can’t go out for breakfast or lunch with my colleagues.
There are so many “I can’t”s.
And as they lay before me, I am so exhausted.
Group 4: The children. Everyone is at home now, and this adds a whole new dimension of responsibility, energy and even chaos. This deserves a post unto itself.
The similar theme is exhaustion. But why? A common denominator is the loss of expectations, loss of routine, loss of purpose.
It is so exhausting.
These dynamics are all part of grief.
Grief creeps up on us in unexpected ways. None of us are immune to it. Some of us start the day with “Great Expectations” and plan on painting a hallway, planting the garden, or cleaning out a closet. Some of us actually achieve that goal.
But others? We start on the project only to be distracted. We can’t seem to stay focused. And by lunchtime, I’m ready for a nap. There are only so many times one can walk their dog. I can only reheat my lukewarm coffee so many times. Or I’m exhausted when I wake up and crawl through the day.
Join the club. If you have been feeling “off” but had no words for it? You are not alone.
Join us as we explore these things.
In my next article I’ll look more closely at grief and what it does to us physically, emotionally, spiritually. When we can name a problem, we can begin to manage it. Let’s manage it together.